Last updated April 12, 2019
A six year old school student decided to help save the gorillas by launching a cell phone recycling scheme in her elementary school after a visit to Cincinnati Zoo. Alaina Spencer wrote a letter to her principal, Jean Hartman of Waynesville Elementary School, asking her to get the school to set up a cell phone recycling process to help protect gorillas. “Cell phones have a mineral that miners have to dig for. The mine is in the gorilla’s habit and the miners have to cut down gorilla’s homes,” the six year old wrote in her letter. Alaina, the daughter of Holli and Blaine Spencer, was writing about mountain gorillas in Eastern Congo, where gorillas habitats are indeed being cut down to facilitate mining for the mineral coltan, which is used in the batteries of cellular phones. “If they have to move, they might get cold and die,” the six year old says. “They might not get the plants they need.”
The letter led to some spontaneous lessons about recycling in her second grade class and the beginning of a cellular phone recycling scheme not just in the school but throughout the entire district. “The kids have been extremely engaged because they’ve taken ownership of the project,” notes Alaina’s teacher, Amanda Johnson. “It’s been a lot of fun,” she says, adding that the students have been inspired to do research on gorillas and that the scheme gives a “real world application” for some classroom activities.